The Church of England, expertly guided by Archbishop Welby, has offered its “repentance” for centuries of anti-Semitism that set up the Holocaust.
Repentance is of course the Christian thing to do, and we can’t have enough of it. Provided, of course, that it’s offered in good faith, as it were, and not for some spurious reason.
For example, nowhere this side of the confessional does one see as much repentance as at sentencing time in our criminal courts. However, one can be forgiven for harbouring suspicions that such noble acts are motivated by ignoble impulses.
In this case, the mea culpa is supposedly prompted by Christian teaching that provided “a fertile seedbed for murderous anti-Semitism”. Specifically: “Within living memory, such ideas contributed to fostering the passive acquiescence if not positive support of many Christians in actions that led to the Holocaust.”
That many Christians – including such remarkable men as Dostoyevsky (along with many other great Russian writers), Chesterton and Céline – have been virulent anti-Semites is God’s own truth. It’s also true that, like any other religion, Christianity condemns infidels.
Jews occupy a special place among the infidels because they had the first chance to reject Christ and took it with alacrity. However, they also carried Christ to the world: not only Jesus himself but also his apostles and the first 15 bishops of Jerusalem were circumcised Jews.
Getting closer to home, in 1290 England was indeed the first European country to expel the Jewish community – though not individual Jews who continued to practise their religion in private.
(This is why, incidentally, Portugal is regarded as Britain’s oldest ally. Expelled English Jews settled there but maintained their business ties with their friends and families staying behind.)
It’s also true that the 1290 expulsion followed a series of pogroms, of which the best-known is the York massacre of 150 Jews in Clifford’s Tower. And yes, there have been many Christians among avid readers of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other texts libellously accusing Jews of thirst for Christian blood.
Such people often committed violence towards Jews, blaming them not only for their dietary preferences, but also for such disasters as the Black Death. However, for the sake of balance, one should also remember that in 1348 Pope Clement VI issued two papal bulls condemning the violence. Those who blamed the Jews, he wrote, had been “seduced by the liar, the Devil.”
It can’t be gainsaid that Christians have always tried to convert Jews, although they aren’t the only group picked for Christian proselytism. Preaching that “the Kingdom of God is at hand” is after all what Christian doctrine obliges its followers to do.
That’s why Christian missionaries have always risked their lives trying to convert people on all continents. At least, unlike certain religions one could mention, they usually did so by peaceful sermon, not by force.
The 100-page report issued by the Anglican Church lists many injustices and crimes perpetrated by Christians against the Jews, although it correctly states that anti-Semitism actually predates Christianity.
My question is why it is specifically the Anglican Church that chose to offer its repentance, and why specifically at this time. One may get the impression that England is the worst and constantly re-offending culprit.
In particular, by accepting a share of the blame for the Holocaust, the Anglican Church seems to imply that England had the same lust for Jewish blood as some of our European partners.
However, I’m not aware of any pogroms occurring in England since Cromwell readmitted the Jewish community in 1656. I realise that historically the 363 elapsing years are but an instant. Yet during this instant anti-Semitic massacres continued apace in Europe, until Hitler mostly its eastern part (hence the Russian word pogrom).
Also during this instant, Jews have suffered economic and legal restrictions in a number of European countries, and isolated violent episodes in some – but not in England. Perpetrators of such acts were often Christians, and some of them committed vile acts because they were Christians, but such devout thugs were rare.
The report mentions in passing that in due course religious ant-Semitism segued into the racial kind. That’s indeed the case: the European revolutions adumbrating modernity emancipated Jews from religious discrimination, but not from the racial variety.
The same human types who used to hate Jews because they espoused a different religion began to hate them because their noses were of different shape. The question of whether or not the two types of anti-Semitism are the same, causatively related or different is hard to answer, and the report doesn’t attempt to do so.
What’s telling, however, is that it leaves out the third type, anti-Semitism based on class hatred, which is as widespread in modern times as the racist kind and much more so than the Christian variety.
The omitted genre of anti-Semitism is Marxist in origin, which is to say socialist. Mix that with ethnic hatred of Jews and you get the Holocaust perpetrated by national socialists, and severe anti-Jewish restrictions imposed by communist states.
But not by England, which again raises the questions posed earlier. What compelled Justin Welby et al. to repent in this particular place and at this particular time?
After all, these days the number of anti-Semitic incidents, violent or otherwise, in any European country is directly proportionate to the number of Muslims, not Christians, there. Yet one doesn’t hear many imams offering apologies.
The answer is that anti-Semitism is in the British news because today’s Labour Party, which may well form our next government, is anti-Semitic. However, there isn’t a word in the report about socialist anti-Semitism in general and Labour anti-Semitism in particular.
Nevertheless the reasons for the report are all current and secular. It’s part of New Age virtue-signalling, wherein the fashion for retrospective penance is de rigueur.
We’re supposed to apologise for our colonial past, being nasty to the Celtic fringe, General Dyer, the Industrial Revolution with its outstanding carbon debt and anything else required to mollify people who typically detest Christianity.
Fair enough, a case can be made that all three (not two) known types of anti-Semitism are but different facets of the same phenomenon.
However, let’s not forget that the Anglican Church (as distinct from the Christian Church in England) didn’t even exist when Jews were last killed in England – and that 600,000 Britons died fighting those responsible for the Holocaust.
Moreover, the Holocaust was perpetrated by socialists who hated Christianity almost as much as they hated Jews – and who murdered Jewish converts to Christianity alongside with religious and non-believing Jews.
Instead of apologising for the nasty things done during the reign of Richard I and Edward I, the Anglican Church ought to apologise for haemorrhaging communicants, vulgarising the liturgy, desecrating cathedrals with fairground attractions, raves and pop music, and other blows raining on Christianity in England.
But we can’t expect its oil-trading hierarchs to do that, can we? It’s so much easier to strike fashionable poses and toe the New Age line.